I was finishing up a few stray dishes last night before bed and the little jar of teeth caught my eye. I paused for a second as I picked up the plastic container so I could look into it. Now, I know there are families who save their children's teeth in special made tooth boxes so they can take them out and show them to their own children one day, but I have a completely different system. When I had only one or two children, I did what every good mother does and began putting the first hair clippings away, the first few teeth that fell out, took fifty thousand photos of each wonderful event, etc, but as the family grew, the things I wanted to save became less. Maybe it was because I had less time for putting stuff like that away, but maybe it was because I began to have so many teeth being handed to me that I just began throwing them into the little container over my sink so I could "someday put it away."
We do not do the Tooth Fairy thing, but I do give them some money when a tooth falls out, though when Caleb began pulling out every single loose tooth (even if it was only a teensy bit wobbly!) during a trip up to Vermont, I began to wonder if the money for teeth idea was a good one. I could not have all five of my children running around rich as kings, but toothless to the gums! What would people think?
So, as one after the other handed me a tooth that had fallen out, I placed them in the jar so I would not lose them down the drain. It seemed right at the time. Yet, when I peeked into it last night, I saw such a collection of different sized teeth and I thought to myself, "This is really weird. How many other families have a jar of teeth sitting on their kitchen shelf? Are other families just as strange and quirky as our family?"
I began to think about other things our family does that is just downright crazy and abnormal. Life around our home is certainly never boring. With seven people all living in the same home, each one with a different personality and gifts that God has given him, there is always something going on that makes you want to laugh, cry, or bang your head on the wall. All the children have their specific qualities to them, each providing our home with a wonderful gift and addition to our family. I will not get into details here, but I can see how God created each one perfectly to fit the needs of our family. It is like a puzzle, and each person makes up a part so we can make a complete picture. Since I am a puzzle person, I love every piece!
As I mentioned before, I began to think about the quirks our family has and wanted to list a few. I am curious to see if we are really abnormal with our strangeness, or if we are quite normal compared to other families. I mean, really, how many other homes have a guest toothbrush they keep on the shelf in their bathroom, reserved for those times when a guest comes and informs us they forgot their toothbrush? I love to watch the face of the person requesting a toothbrush as we hand them the worn down, haggered looking brush and say, "Sure, you can use our guest toothbrush. It has been awhile since anyone else used it, so the germs should be gone by now."
Whoever said I am always mellow and never mischievious never really got to know me very well. For those of you who have read my books, you know there is some crazy imagination running around in that brain of mine. Just ask my husband and he will quickly inform you that I have a little streak of crazy that runs through my blood. Just the fact that a I laugh when I watch evil cat videos, you know, the ones that have the cats arching their backs and howling at their owners for no apparent reason. (It kind of makes me think of my own cat once, though it was not a laughing matter for my poor friend at the time!)
Quirky....yes, that is a good word for us. I think it quirky that we listen to the cats chasing each other up and down the hall, smashing into the walls and doors, growling and howling at each other at 11:00 at night. I simply pull the covers over my head so I won't get scratched as Kia races over my face as she runs for cover on the table next to my side of the bed. It is just a part of our nighttime routine.
Speaking of nighttime routine, how many other families let their children stay up until 10:00 at night, so caught up in some project or another that they forget to send them to bed? Or, even if I get them into bed at a decent hour, I suddenly get the idea that tickling them is fun. I then get them all riled up and they cannot settle down for another hour after that! I remember Eric Capacci's stories of how he and his family would be up at midnight, eating bowls of cereal before he sent his children to bed. It makes me feel a little better to know I am not alone in my lack of consistency of early bedtime, but sometimes I wish I had the same energy that he has!
I asked Joe last night if he could think of anything strange we do and he mentioned the fact that instead of sniffing the children to see if they have a dirty diaper (we have been out of diapers for two-plus years now-yeah!), we now sniff their hair to see if they need to take a shower. Talk about crazy habits!
I know this is a strange way of writing an end of the year blog, but to be honest, all that I mentioned above is some of the things that make a year so exciting. So much has happened over the last twelve months, and I am so thankful to my Lord how He has once again blessed us with good health, a car that continues to run (even though I thought this would be my Caravan's last year)a house that has minimal problems, a good job for Joe, a wonderful church and pastor (who continues to remain healthy), good friends, another book published and released, answered prayers, and a promise for an awesome year to come with many new and exciting opportunities for our family.
Many years ago I wrote a poem about the new year and thought it appropriate to put it here for all to read. I do not dread the new year like I once did when I was a teenager. Not knowing what was ahead often frightened me, but I am happy to say my heart is at peace with the blank slate of 2013, knowing that God is in control and He will be by my side no matter what happens.
Another year has come and gone again,
There were days I thought would never end,
But the Lord saw me through each of them,
I’m so glad that He is always by my side.
As I look back on days gone by,
I’m so amazed how time can fly!
And so it goes moving faster each year,
Leading me down a road, which is unclear.
The road of life has many winding turns,
Lined with holes of lessons to be learned,
What does the coming year hold for me?
Why is a new year so like a mystery?
Wasn’t it just the other day?
When all my thoughts were turned to play?
Now all those happy thoughts of yesterday,
Are now but memories I’ve tucked away.
But as you face those days ahead,
Don’t let your mind be filled with dread.
Just open up your heart and take the key,
Jesus is the way for all you see.
(Copyright Cara Simmons 1994)
By the way, if you are still wondering about our guest toothbrush, I am happy to inform you that we do not actually have the guest use it. We do have clean, unopened brushes saved for that very reason. Yet, the reactions we get are priceless. And I often wonder where some of my children get their passion for teasing others...hmm...better rethink that whole idea. Awww, maybe next year.....;)
Here's to the wonderful close of 2012, and many blessings to come in 2013!
Happy New Year, my friends! God bless you!
The morning dawned just like any morning. The children woke up a little later than usual, after our exciting evening of meteor watching the night before, but that was okay. I had decided to take the morning off from school anyway so I could get some baking done for a party on Saturday, and the children had not given me any guff about the grand idea. It was not until 1:00 when I heard about the news. It was shocking and heart wrenching. Tears quickly sprang to my eyes as I read what had happened only a short fifty minutes away from my house. I gathered the children together and we prayed for those poor families, for the school staff, and for all those who were involved in the horrific tragedy. A numb feeling came over me and no matter how much I did not want to think about it, I could not stop. It was everywhere I looked. Everytime I saw my children I was reminded of those who may never see their children again. Any ideas of wanting to quit homeschooling suddenly vanished. I was immediately content to keep on plugging on, no matter the challenges that came our way, because I knew where my children were and had them close by my side.
Here it is exactly one week later and though the healing has started, there is going to months, possibly even years worth of prayers for those involved in the sad events from last Friday. As I listened to the wild winds raging outside this morning, and heard the rain drops pounding the window behind my bed, I could not help but wonder if it was God sending His tear drops down to His creation below. I know the verse that says, "There will be no more tears in heaven," but that is a promise to us, that we will no longer have sadness when we reach heaven's gates. We will not have a need to weep or shed tears anymore because we will be in paradise with our Lord. Yet, does that mean God does not, or cannot cry? How His heart must break over the foolish choices we make on this earth. To my fragile, earthly mind, I cannot help but think that God must cry as He watches us hurting each other, desiring that all would turn to Him in every situation in life.
Two thousand years ago, God sent His only Son down as a baby, to be born into the world of human beings, something He had created from the very dust of the earth, which in turn had been formed by His word. Baby Jesus was part God and part human. The God part He had down pat, yet, it was the human side that God wanted His Son to learn about. With careful consideration, He chose Mary and Joseph to rear the God-child, because He knew their hearts. There must have been something special about them that God knew they could show His Son, Jesus, because Jesus needed to learn the way of human emotions and how to interact with others around them. God was (and is!) complete love. He radiated that love everywhere He went. His eyes spoke volumes to those around Him.
I cannot help but think of Jesus as a little boy, running and playing with His friends. He was sinless, so He must have always obeyed His parents when they called Him home, and gave His friends first choice of the game they played, but I am sure there were times when He fell down on the rough gravel and scraped His knee. I can see Him running home to His mother, crying from the pain and blood He saw dripping down His leg. He had to learn firsthand of the love from an earthly mother, who tenderly cleaned up His wounds with her gentle touch.
When Jesus remained behind at the temple, and Joseph and Mary franctically searched for three days to find Him, He learned of the care and concern that earthly parents have for their children, and how much they loved Him and wanted Him to be safe. There is little said about those 33 years that Jesus spent on the earth, watching, learning, and biding His time for when His ministry on earth would begin. I think He was using that time to learn about the very people He had created. He learned how they thought and handled situations that came their way. He watched how they cared for their families; how they interacted together; how they had fun together; laughed together; cried together. I believe He experienced every kind of emotion that people ever feel in their lives. It says in Hebrews 4:15, "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
It is comforting to me to know that God knows exactly what we are feeling. He knows our pain, our heartaches, and our tears. He also knows how to reach out and touch our hurting hearts and fill them with peace and comfort. As the saying goes, God can calm the storm that is raging around you, but sometimes He chooses to let it rage and just calm your heart in the midst of the storm. As I listen to the wind outside, I see He is choosing to let it continue blowing, but the peace in my heart gives me a warm feeling inside. I usually hate the wind. After the last two hurricanes that blew through here, I tend to get a little panicky when I hear the wind, but God is still in control. I have seen Him take care of us through those storms, and trust He will continue to watch over my family.
In closing, I want to quote the words to a song I heard as a little girl. God truly is a God of love:
If That Isn't Love
He left the splendor of heaven,
Knowing His destiny,
Was the lonely hill of Golgatha,
Where He laid down His life for me.
If that isn't love,
The ocean is dry,
There's no stars in the sky,
And the sparrow can't fly.
If that isn't love,
Then heaven's a myth,
There's no feeling like this,
If that isn't love.
Even in death He remembered,
The thief hanging by His side,
He spoke with love and compassion,
And He took him to paradise.
If that isn't love,
The ocean is dry,
There's no stars in the sky,
And the sparrow can't fly.
If that isn't love,
Then heaven's a myth,
There's no feeling like this,
If that isn't love.
May the God of all comforts fill your heart with peace this morning.
Psa 32:7 "Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt
compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah."
"...what time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."
The last six hours had been extremely busy and I was beginning to feel a bit weary from everything that had transpired over the evening. My oldest son, who is growing like a weed, needed some new shirts that did not go up to his elbows when he raised his arms, and some new shoes that did not pinch his toes. I set out with my crew of children, on a mission to find the much needed items, though I was a little apprehensive about taking all five into the stores alone. It always turns into a huge adventure for me and I often wonder if I have lost all sense of sanity at times. Just having five children can make me wonder if I was ever sane at all, but God knows what we need and I would not trade any of them for anything.
We went to a couple of stores before we found a place that had some decent clothing my son would wear. Along the way my girls also found some beautiful dresses they fell in love with, so they would look gorgeous as they sing in the girls' choir at church in a couple of weeks. When we were finally finished and had checked out, I went to get them a bite to eat. Benny, who is always hungry and asking for a snack, remarked how he just "could not stand it" and needed something very soon. I am always amazed at how much he can eat and he never seems to gain a pound. He seems stuck at 38 pounds, yet he continues to shoot up in height. I wish it would work that way for me!
When we arrived home, I dropped the children off with Joe and then headed back out so I could finish some grocery shopping. It was not until 9:45 that I got back home, put the groceries away, and was finally able to sit down for a brief moment. It was while I was checking my facebook that I noticed the comments about the meteor shower that night. Now, I LOVE meteor showers! I have tried many times to view them here in Connecticut, but there are always so many obstacles. Often times, the meteors are only seen in the early hours of the morning, and I am just too tired to get up at 3:00 a.m. to watch a few streaks of light go shooting across the sky. Other times it is too cloudy outside and try as you might, there is no way you can see anything anyway. One other thing that bugs me around here is the fact that it is so bright! The lights of the cars, towns, factories, you name it, drown out the wonder of the stars overhead. I miss the clear, dark, skies of Vermont, where I could lay a blanket down on the ground and get lost in the vast miles of sky above me. It must have been an amazing sight for Abraham to view the sky over his head. The amount of stars he could see must have been amazing!
So, last night, I saw the posts about the meteors, and the thing that caught my attention was the fact that it was going on at that very moment! I called out, "Who wants to go see some shooting stars? I am going and you can go with me if you want!"
Basically, everyone wanted to go. Some of them had never seen a meteor so this was going to be new to them. It had been years since I had seen one, and I wanted to see if I could break my record of 32 in one hour. So, even though it was 10:00 at night, we all piled in the van, some still dressed in their pajamas, and drove down the road to the graveyard, (yes, me and my graveyards!) in hopes that we could find a dark enough spot to see something.
As I was getting out of the car, a streak lit up the sky right in front of me. I could tell this was going to be good! I showed the children how they could lean back on the hood of the van and get a good view of the sky overhead. It was so much fun! All seven of us gazed up at the sky, ooohing and ahhhing everytime we saw a big, flash of light. We clapped and cheered as if we were watching a fireworks show. One by one our little group began to shrink though, as the cold numbed toes and noses. Joe and Benny climbed back into the car and watched the show from inside. The rest of us cuddled together, determined to see more bright shooting stars. It was an amazing display of God's heavenly fireworks, and the children got to see it first hand. Another memory placed in the mental storage unit in each of the children's minds. This was something they would never forget.
Overall, I did not pass my record of 32. Caleb and Susanna claimed they saw 35, but I only saw 22. If we had stayed longer, I know I would have seen more. Next time I hear there is a meteor shower, I will bring a big, cozy blanket to wrap us all in and we will stay outside together for at least an hour! Thank the Lord for crazy shopping trips, large families, and shooting stars!
The other day we were invited to meet some of the children's friends from Heritage for a field trip to the small dinosaur park in Middlefield. We had visited this tiny park a few times before, and even though we had seen the footprints from the dinosaurs, I figured it would be good for the children to see it again, as well as hear about the park's history from a very knowledgeable teacher. To be honest, I wanted to hear about it myself.
We could not have picked a nicer day to go. It was hard to believe December could see sixty degree weather, but with the sun shining, and birds chirping in the trees, you would have thought spring was in the air. When we arrived, we discovered someone had been to the park shortly before and had outlined, in chalk, many of the three-toed footprints that covered the small, rock-covered area. I had never noticed how many there were and was quite surprised. They were all different sizes, meaning young dinosaurs and their parents had stood in the very same spot we were standing. It was a very awesome thing to think about!
When the other children arrived along with their teachers, the gentleman who taught fifth grade explained to everyone how the footprints had been formed, in the ground that once had been mud, but became rock hard as the other layers of rock were pushed over it when Noah's flood came. I was fascinated with the story, and it was so good to hear the story of creation explained and not have to hear about how it took millions and billions of year ago to make such a site. All I could picture were hundreds of dinosaurs running in every direction, confused and scared as the rains came down and the grounds became flooded with water. Higher and higher the waters rose, pushing the soil and mud into layer after layer, until the ground became a small mountain. The only reason they had discovered the footprints in the first place was because the town had needed the rock for a project down the road and had blasted the area. Upon removing the rock, the footprints were discovered in the layers.
When I asked why there were no dinosaur skeletons, I was told that the sediment did not have the proper minerals for preserving bones. I guess there are no dinosaur fossils found in Connecticut, though there are plenty of footprints to prove they had once roamed the state.
As I got to thinking about Noah and the flood, I began to think about the idea that only Noah and seven others in his family made it through those scary days of the worldwide flood. I have been thinking and praying a lot about the future of this country, wondering just how long God is going to wait for the people of this land to realize He still rules the throne. It does not matter if people ignore Him, deny Him, or even say He is not real. God has given His creation as a witness to His very Being, and just as He was merciful to Israel and waited patiently for hundreds of years for them to come back to Him, there was always a time of taking His hand off them and letting the enemy come in and wreak havoc. Like I said before, how long will the Lord wait for us? As in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. Eating, drinking, making merry (partying), and doing what was right in their own eyes. That was how it was when Noah was on the earth. Yet, Noah made an open choice to do what was right and live for God. It did not matter if people around him laughed and told him he was an oddball. It did not matter if people threw sticks at him, and mud at the ark that he built. Noah went ahead even with the persecution around him, knowing in his heart that what God said would surely come to pass on the earth. God could not lie. He still cannot lie. His Word is true. My question today is, will I be a Noah and be one of the ones who sails safely on the ark when the judgement falls on this land? I want to be a Noah. I want to do what is right now matter what it may mean for me and my family. May the Lord give me strength to continual walk in His ways, and may He continue to grant this country mercy for the sake of my children.
For those of you who have any of my books, you will notice that there is a verse written under my signature on the first page. Each book has a different verse, and each one has a specific reason for my writing it.
In the first book, The Haven, I always write Ephesians 3:20 underneath my name: "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." As I have written before, I have always had a dream of publishing a book. That dream finally became a reality back in 2006 when my husband encouraged me to simply write the story that was in my head and we would see where the Lord would take us on the journey of publishing. It was a tough process, and many learning bumps along the way, but finally, in 2007 I held my first published book in my hand. It was so much more than I had dreamed, and the Lord gave me the verse from Ephesians, assuring me that when we put matters into His hands, He will accomplish even more than we had ever thought possible.
In book two, The Leviathan, I always write Psalm 37:4-5: "Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." After publishing my first book, I realized I did not completely like the company I had gone with and felt the Lord was telling me to find someone different. I did some more searching and found a Christian company who promised to help me with the entire process, which was more than the first company had promised. I felt it was the right one to choose and was at peace about it all. After another difficult process of editing, changing the editing back to what it was supposed to be (all my verses had been changed to a version I did not want to use and so it actually required more work on my part and did not help me in the least to have a "professional" edit my manuscript) and more editing, I finally held my second book in my hand, in 2009. Even though there had been hard times of waiting for the okay from people in my life, it taught me that I need to wait on God for His perfect timing. If I delight myself in Him, He would give me the desires of my heart. When I completely put the matter into His hands, He brought it to pass.
After this lesson, the Lord allowed me to get my first book republished through the same company as the second, and it was not long after that I was holding the same story, different cover, in my hands in 2010.
It was only a month and a half ago when I was waiting for my third published book (published by a different publishing company) to come in. I was excited about the new book, yet, I still had not received a verse from the Lord about what to sign in the front. I had been praying about it, but nothing would come to mind.
I was sitting at the table working with the children on their schoolwork when a text came in on my phone. I opened it up and all I saw was a verse: I Cor 2:9. I quickly grabbed a Bible nearby and looked up the vese. It said, " But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." It was like a light was suddenly turned on. God spoke to me through that verse and I felt all giddy inside. I sent a text back to the lady who had first sent it to me and asked her why she had messaged me with it. She said it was a verse that God gave to her as she worked on the Ladies Conference decorations, and had sent it to everyone she knew. It was so neat to see how God used someone else to show me an answer to my prayer.
My book, The Champion, came in that very same day, though many of you know there was a mess up of the book and I had to endure some more waiting until the correct book finally arrived. Yet, God was good to answer all the prayers involved with the process of publishing. I am not sure what God has in store for my future of writing, but I am holding on to that promise from Corithians, that something great is going to happen with the three books. I may be done with the orphan series, (for now), but for those of you interested, I do have more projects planned in the near future. God is not done teaching me things, and I am not done getting these stories and ideas out of my head.
Pastor Bish preached from Psalm 86:11-12, which was a song I learned as a little girl, "Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore." I want David's prayer to become my prayer, that God will unite my heart to solely love Him. I do not want to have a divided heart that loves Him AND something else. It is not possible. We cannot love two masters. I want any divisions in my heart to close up, to merge towards the One and Only Person I should love completely and that is the Lord. I must do that in order to see I Cor 2:9 fulfilled. God has things planned for me, as His child, but He will only allow them to come to pass if I delight myself in Him, and love Him with my whole heart. Isn't it neat how every verse comes together and ties back to the One Who truly allowed the entire process to come together in the first place? Praise be to the Lord!
P.S. I will be putting up the third chapter of the Perfect Love story very soon.